Saturday, November 23, 2013

Democracy works because it indirectly supports a basic reality.  By treating all as being created equal we protect the basic essence of the Buddhist observation that Self is, to a large extent, an illusion, a false representation.  No one, really, is a born monarch.  That would be a false self.  A person could act the part, and develop a marvelous personality to match, but in the end, the person is human, just like you or I.  There are many great ego trips to have:  I'm this, I'm that, there goes Tom Cruise.  Such things weigh us down.  Hitler was caught up in himself, in the picture of himself, creating a whole world order based on a false notion of self.

Democracy may work indirectly, and perhaps represents the extent to which thinking, bound to the practical world as it is, can go.  We can accept the logic of fairness, of all created equal and equal protection under the law, of the idea of voting for representative government.  But to go any further, to philosophically embrace what is coincidentally the main idea of a thinker and wise man from long ago, would invite chaos, it would seem.  And indeed, unenlightened people are bound to act selfishly, so, the thinking might go, you can never achieve fairness, right?  Which happens to be one of the problems, now that I think about it, of a democracy, as justice can get bent to those with greater resources, as assessing the power of any one vote for, say, the President, is a complicated matter depending on a lot of things (thanks to gerrymandering, Karl Rove's fondness for hacking voting machines, the money for big opiate advertising) even if the delegate system of the electoral college seems the best attempt there can be at national parity.

But there it is, a basic reality to be found out, that, as a poet put it, "I'm nobody -- who are you?"  Can democracy protect the interests of all who might realize that?

To go consider a corporation as an equal entity under the law doesn't agree.  Corporations almost necessarily have to have ego, simply in their structure, their need to make a profit.  Thus will they act to forward their own selfish interests for whatever reason.    The logic of Halliburton, enforcing clear cut goals.

Compare the corporation with the private citizen, who of course, being a human being, has a broad range of concerns and sensibility, with a  more immediate sense of nature and the environment we live in, who can sense healthy behavior.   The great democracy should be just that, steered by informed private citizens, reducing  egotistical acts.  Of course that would now be sneered at, taken as pie in the sky, belittled as childishness, 'who will pay the bills?'  And it would seem there is even no more infrastructure, like the town meeting, for much of that to even begin.  The structure, or course, is representative government, which now means raising money, primary, before all concerns and stances, which means lobbyists.

The great bargain of journalism, which aims to be, through a myriad of takes on different issues, egoless and truth-searching, is to allow within the ego of the corporate advertisement in its pages.  Ads can be, like Facebook, quickly overwhelming to the delicate reading mind sorting out its daily reactions and thoughts.  Is Facebook reducible being suspiciously like personal advertisement and branding as an inevitable consequence of its basic form?

But a democracy is effective to the extent that it offers protection and fairness to "the least of these," to the most selfless, to the meek along with the infirm and the poor.  And this leaves one to wonder if there is not some great center, a great intersection of those things we bundle up separately as art, religion, government, wellness practices like yoga, and science as well.  To do one well, the practitioner must expand across all of them, blending poetry with science, music with spirituality, hospitality with the rule of law, as if reconciling strange bedfellows.

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